i:Vibes caught up with one of dance music's most legendary producers, M.I.K.E...
2 LEGENDS MEET: M.I.K.E. VS TECHNOCLUB
Mike Dierickx aka M.I.K.E. from Antwerpen, Belgium has been fascinating clubland for more than fifteen years with innovative EDM under various guises with Push and Plastic Boy being his most famous. He started producing music in 1992 and has been a workaholic releasing more than 300 tracks in 15 years. His love of music started at age 10 after he heard a Depeche Mode Synth Electro performance and he soon decided that producing music would become a part of his life. His first release was "A New Sign" as Vision Act in 1992 under the Atom label. In the next years, he released many tracks as Extreme Trax, Moon Project, or Fun-Tastic, developing his sound. However his huge breakthrough happened in 1998 when he released "Universal Nation" as Push. This track became a worldwide hit and is considered a trance classic today. This track won various dance awards and put Belgium on the dance map. His follow up "Strange World" was another smash hit and made Push into a household name in the dance scene. His third release as Push was "The Legacy" which also tore up the dance floors, topped most dance charts worldwide and reached #21 in the UK charts. He started the label Scanner Digital in 1999 and Club:Elite records in 2003. He has continued making high profile tracks since the turn of the century. In 2002, he released another club smash "Silver Bath" as Plastic Boy and in 2004, he released beautiful trance tracks "Search For Freedom" and "Out Of Our Lives" as Active Sight together with Fred Baker. In the last few years, he has been very busy producing tracks as M.I.K.E. He has had more than ten releases including the albums "Perfect Blend" and "Moving On In Life". He also has remixed known artists like Sinead 'O Connor, Moby, Mauro Piccoto, Bom Funk MCs, Oliver Lieb and Ian van Dahl in the last few years. With his success as Push, he was also able to start a successful DJ career and has visited some of the most famous venues world wide like Gatecrasher and Godskitchen in the UK, Fura and Vel Farre in Japan, Dance Valley and Trance Energy in Holland, Spirit and Spundae in the U.S. and from Australia's Sydney and Melbourne to New Zeeland and the residency in Armada's Amnesia club night in Ibiza are a few to mention. 2008 has been extremely busy for him as his remixes for "Pulverturm" from Niels van Gogh were released as well as Absolute ¡V Dolphin's Cry, Andrew Bennett - A New World, and The Gift - Blue Lights. In early summer, new material from Plastic Boy and Push are expected. On May 8th, M.I.K.E. made his Technoclub debut with the release of "Techno Club Volume 26".
i:Vibes: Hi Mike, How are you? Thanks for taking some time for this interview. You have been in the dance scene since 1992 and Talla 2XLC since 1984. Why did it take so long for two legends to finally meet? Or have you played in The Technoclub in the past?
M.I.K.E.: We did actually already team up for a record back in 1999. It was called "Vulture", but compilation wise, it's the first time yeah, should be a goodie! I did play Dorian Grey in Frankfurt, for Talla years ago, so yeah I did, I think, I played twice there. A very dark and underground club it was.
i:Vibes: How excited are you about playing in The Technoclub and mixing the new CD together with Talla 2XLC? What can we expect from the CD and your DJ set?
M.I.K.E.: It's a cool thing, sharing concepts and two DJs with their own view on today's trance music, very challenging, same aim, same style, but each with their own way in our trancy state of mind. The compilation has a good reputation so it's always good to join this concept!
i:Vibes: What are your thoughts when you hear the words Technoclub and Talla 2XLC? What kind of a status do they have in Belgium?
M.I.K.E.: Honestly, not that big, as each country has it's own scene and following. The trance scene in Belgium is very different. It's more deep trance and progressive. The more melodic side of trance is hard to find here. Most clubs do play house or techno here, those are the ruling scenes in Belgium. But there is a trance base, and sure they know Talla.
i:Vibes: You released your first track in 1992. Germany had a big influence on the world wide techno scene, especially Frankfurt. What German artists inspired you in the early 90's and who did you respect?
M.I.K.E.: Many, but my number one will always be Oliver Lieb, back in the days. Didn't he reside in Frankfurt too? I visited his studio once, that was dope! ƒº But the early German scene was a bit to ravey for me. It all started to get better when Jam & Spoon, Oliver Lieb and others like Talla started to trance up the scene in Germany. The rest is history I guess, Germany along with Belgium did introduce the TRANCE scene as we know it today, not the Netherlands or the UK!
i:Vibes: You are from Antwerpen, Belgium. Did you have a normal childhood and what was so special about the Depeche Mode Synth Electro Peformance that got you infected with the desire to make dance music?
M.I.K.E.: Antwerp is a cool city - cosy, not that mega city like, but very inspiring. Hey, who didn't get infected by Depeche Mode!! My all time heroes. Or Kraftwerk, Fad Gadget and Belgium based Front 242, it all infected me cause of the electronic elements and being so different from everything else. It was the foundation of today's electronic dance scene.
i:Vibes: From 1992-1998 you had already had 60 releases until your big breakthrough with "Universal Nation" as Push. Why did it take so long for your first big hit?
M.I.K.E.: I don't know, you never wait for that moment, it just happens, and then BANG. "Universal Nation" was not a formula, it was just a track I wrote like all my other tracks, it just stood out that time, right time right moment I guess.
i:Vibes: What were the most important things that you learned in the studio from 1992-1998 up until "Universal Nation". How did your sound change and develop in this time?
M.I.K.E.: Back in the days, all studio stuff was midi based, synths, drum computers, effects, mixing consoles, you had to learn how to use all those studio wonders and getting the best out of them. I miss those good old days, but my studio is still well midi equipped. It's now a combo of hardware vs. software.
i:Vibes: "Universal Nation" was one of those first early trance tracks that led the transformation from the older trance sound 1990-1997 to the new more sophisticated trance sound, which began in 1998 and led to the vocal trance 1999 and up to the more progressive sound of the last few years. Your track was not only a big hit in 1998, but was also groundbreaking for the sound development in trance. Have you ever been aware of this and how important do you see "Universal Nation"?
M.I.K.E.: Paul Oakenfold still quotes it as his favourite trance track ever, Tiesto said a while ago that "Universal Nation" was his break through in trance, and I can quote many others¡K It just happened, right time right moment, and yeah, I still believe it's a timeless track. "Universal Nation" is and will always be "that" track that changed the trance scene of today, which I"m very proud of.
i:Vibes: "Universal Nation" is such a catchy track. It seems so simple, but it probably took a lot of bleeding on your part in the studio? Was this a quick piece of work or did it take longer? What was the most difficult part in getting the track perfect?
M.I.K.E.: This will be a short answer, I produced it in just 4 hours! The rest is history¡K
i:Vibes: I also loved "The Legacy". There are many club experiences I can remember in my life, like 2002 when I saw Ferry Corsten play this track live in Eindhoven, Holland. The atmosphere in this track is what makes it so special. What inspired you to make this classic trance track?
M.I.K.E.: Again, I have no formula. I go in the studio, in the morning, noon or night, put all my stuff on, computer, synths, I start up Logic Pro, and then, my heart, soul and my fingers are doing the rest. Every day is different, one day I"ll end up Techy, the other day progressive, and the other day, like "The Legacy". And that's why I love my job, unpredictable, like the business, one day hot, one day not, one day hit, the other day a flaw and that's the challenge!
i:Vibes: You have so many projects like Push, Plastic Boy, M.I.K.E., The Gift etc. Every project has its own distinct sound. How difficult is it for you to go in the studio and have to go back and fourth from project to project and find that special sound? Do you have a secret?
M.I.K.E.: Yes and no. Trance, techno, progressive, electro, all divided in genres, but also in my project names and collaborations I do with people. I try to stay true to my sound I give to one alias or another. Push is trance, Mike Vs Andrew Bennet is progressive trance, Liquid Overdose is techno etc. But that's the versatile person in me and what I love about producing. Being so diverse in sound that having 1001 (figure of speech) aliases is a must!
i:Vibes: You produced some real gems like "Search For Freedom" or "Out Of Our Lives" as Active Sight together with Fred Baker. It has been quiet with this project since 2006. Will there be some new productions in the future and what makes this project so unique with Fred Baker?
M.I.K.E.: Due to some private and personal issues, Fred had some difficult times to go through. But we hope he is getting back on track again, like the energetic person he is. He has been a good friend of mine for years, so we will definitely go back in the studio together when the time is right. Possibly for an album and more singles.
i:Vibes: You produced a "A Better World" with up and coming German producer Andrew Bennett. What was it like working with him? What was your nicest memory of making this track with him?
M.I.K.E.: Andrew was always a fan of my early works, so when I joined Armada, and he was signed to Armada, we did meet at the label parties at Ocean Diva in Amsterdam. That's where we said let's have some fun and make a track together. Then he came to my studio, and we did "Into The Danger" at first, and became friends. He is a cool person, and there are more collaborations to come between us!
i:Vibes: You have produced nearly 400 tracks in 15 years and are considered a producer legend. However it doesn't seem like you have received all the credit you should have like maybe Paul van Dyk, Tiesto or Armin van Buuren. Can it be because you are not as famous as a DJ as these three guys? Does that bother you or are you fine with that?
M.I.K.E.: That's very true, but that's a bit my own fault! I"m stubborn sometimes, and didn't grab opportunities which where there to take. But that's live and learn, and oh yeah, I learned. After all, I"m still in the firm of the world's number one DJ, so we do take those benefits as well, but at the end, I will do it myself, the hard way, with lots of passion and devotion!
i:Vibes: In the next months, new tracks from Push and Plastic Boy will be released. What can we await sound wise from these projects?
M.I.K.E.: Hey, check out my MySpace and my http://mike.be/ website for all teasers and more¡K lol! No, serious, it's like going back to the roots, Plastic Boy and Push as we know it! Driving, melodic, uplifting but with a very sweet sense of taste. The feedback is great so far, so be ready for the comeback of TRANCE.
i:Vibes: You started the labels Scanner Digital in 1999 and Club:Elite in 2003. What are the differences between these two labels and what are your goals for the future?
M.I.K.E.: Scanner Records was born in 1999 and was more the techno side of me. Now we changed the label into Scanner Digital as we are in the digital age. The sound is more defined into electro and tech house with a techno twist. Club:Elite I started when I joined Armada Music in 2004. The sound can be defined as tech trance with a progressive and melodic touch. We had M.I.K.E., Andrew Bennett, Albert Vorne and Gareth Emery stuff signed to the label which already gained massive support from everyone. Lots to come in the next months, including the resurrection of PUSH and Klems.
i:Vibes: What young and up coming artists do you see breaking out in 2008?
M.I.K.E.: Klems, a guy from France I signed to my label Club:Elite. There are many talents out there. Markus Schossow is a cool kid and so is Mat Zo from the UK. But like I said, there are so many new talents out there to discover, and 2008 isn't over yet. ƒº
i:Vibes: As a DJ, you have played at all the big venues in the world. What was the greatest club experience you have had as a DJ and why?
M.I.K.E.: What a difficult question! So many good venues and festival around the world, pwew¡K Euhh, my DJ tours in Australia are always cool to do, so are my U.S. trips¡K Then there was my performance at I Love Techno in 2000 which was my best LIVE show ever, and Dance Valley in 2005 was the best outdoor performance for me ever.
i:Vibes: What are your five all time favourite tracks?
M.I.K.E.: Jam & Spoon ¡V Stella
Oliver Lieb ¡V Hidden Sun Of Venus
Depeche Mode ¡V all their music!
Visage ¡V Fade to Grey
Joey Beltram ¡V Energy Flash
In no particular order¡K
i:Vibes: You have achieved a lot as an artist. What goals do you still have? Maybe making a soundtrack or producing a well known artist or singer? Which artist would you like to produce?
M.I.K.E.: There are still many goals to reach, but it all takes time. I do a lot of other stuff than dance music, but step by step. At the moment I do produce a promising house DJ which you will hear of soon.
i:Vibes: What are your hobbies?
M.I.K.E.: Playing with my kid, who is my hero, spending family time, soccer, snowboarding and other crazy stuff!
i:Vibes: Mike, thanks for the chat! We are all looking forward to your visit to The Techno Club!
M.I.K.E.: It was a pleasure, see you soon!